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Shane Lowry hits a “pretty cool” hole-in-one in Sawgrass

Shane Lowry brightened the weather-plagued Players Championship with a hole-in-one on the legendary 17th, while Paul Casey continued his glorious comeback from a nightmare start at Sawgrass.

Lowry’s drive shot on the 124-yard par 3 went about 10 feet over the hole and reached back into the cup to set off wild celebrations from the 34-year-old Irishman.

The Eagle lifted Lowry, who had also hit an ace during the Masters on the 16th at the Augusta National, to four under par and although he missed the difficult 18th bogey, birdies on first and second kept him in contention for the title.

Lowry said: “You play this game, sometimes special things just happen. It’s pretty cool to do it there, one of the most famous golf holes.

“Yes, what should I say? It was special and I’m looking forward to turning on my phone and seeing the messages I received. Not only that, it set me back a bit in the tournament. So it was incredible.”

With five under par when play was stopped due to darkness, Lowry had four holes of his third round to play and was four shots behind India’s Anirban Lahiri, who had seven holes left.

America’s Tom Hoge and Harold Varner were a shot behind Lahiri, with Casey another shot behind alongside Sebastian Munoz and Sam Burns.

Casey hit a triple-bogey seven on his first hole of the £15.2million event on Thursday but fought back to card an opening 70 and added a bogey-free 69 on Sunday, which is a birdie from 50 feet on the par 3 17th.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had two full days off from a tournament,” Casey said, referring to bad weather that meant some players who teed off early on Thursday didn’t play until Sunday.

“It was strange. It started with a triple bogey on Thursday to start my championship but I ended up two under which I was very happy about knowing there was going to be some kind of delay.

“I know I had the lucky side of the draw. I am very aware of that. And it was interesting to watch the guys fight on the other side. I mean, I believe in the golf gods and karma, so I don’t sit gleefully and watch.

“Then I made a lot of putts today. That really was the key. Even my ball hit wasn’t up to my usual standard. But then dropping the long one to 17 was very, very cool.”

Casey’s Ryder Cup teammate Tommy Fleetwood added a 73 to his first 66 and went five under par after nine holes of his third round.

“It was just weird,” Fleetwood said. “I’ve never been to a tournament with delays like this and it’s just weird how long the week feels and it actually hasn’t been that long.

“You’re still here on a regular tournament day, we still have Sunday, it just feels like it’s been a while.

“But it was nice to have the family here. I think they definitely made a big difference instead of just waiting around alone and not having a lot to do.”

The halfway cut had fallen to two over par, allowing 2019 champion Rory McIlroy to claw into the final 36 holes after consecutive rounds of 73.

McIlroy covered his first nine holes of round three in an over to stay near the bottom of the standings.

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